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donates food to homeless for holidays


t’s that time of year again: the malls are crowded, the lines are long and the air is filled with holiday cheer. You walk into the grocery store with a list of foods for a holiday feast, and as you hand your money to the cashier, a small photo of a boy with big, pleading eyes just begging for holiday donations catches your eye. “Poor thing,” you say to yourself as you imagine a place that could be so cruel. Meanwhile, less than three miles away, family’s stand in line with the same desperate expression at “Food for Families,” a non profit organization that serves free food to unemployed and low income residents. The day before Thanksgiving, the Muslim Students Association (MSA) went to the food bank and helped organize food into meal boxes, each with nine different categories of food and a small turkey for each family. “The people who worked there full-time immediately gave us assignments when we arrived like bagging, packaging, stocking canned foods or delivering the boxes to cars,” said senior Nader Hussein. “The experience taught me to be more thankful for the food I have, because the people who go to these banks can’t get food as easily as we can. Sometimes we throw food away when other people really need

it, so we should make an effort to help them because it’s not their fault if they’re hurt at work and can’t get a job.” President of MSA, Ibrahim Al-Khalaf, brought the project to the clubs attention, not only to fulfill a fundamental duty of Islam, but also to spread a more positive image of the religion around the community. “One of the pillars of Islam is to give a donation to the poor,” Al-Khalaf said. “Usually people interpret that as giving money, but what I want to emphasize this year is that money can only go so far, and what we really need to give is our time so that we can truly give everything and not only be humble, but understand what other people go to so that we can appreciate what we have.” History teacher Donald Clark adopted the group three years ago and continues to sponsor their meetings, which take place every Tuesday in room 216, and their prayer sessions, which are held Fridays after school in the Lecture Hall. “Haywon Yi, a former history teacher at Oakton, thought that I would be open minded and tolerant enough to take on the club, so how could I resist?” Clark said. “They didn’t have a sponsor, and they are such an energetic, engaged group of committed students. I think it’s very important for Muslims in America both to assimilate as Americans, but to also retain the pride in their tradition and culture, and this group gives the students an opportunity to share experiences and show that terrorists are a very small extremist

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an writers, c iyer, staff and ra u y a m rner and aktonme - elise we at elise.werner@o d e e edia.n t be reach oaktonm r@ e y .i ra r break mayu the winte

- roya crider, staff writer, can be reached at roya.crider@

Students spend their winter breaks traveling around the world

The holi day seas on is a ti time wit h family m and in so e for relaxation freshma ,s me cases n Maggie , a time to pending Lin, this her to pr travel. Fo winter b actice he reak will r rF snowboa be a tim rd and v rench while she e fo is d r r it iv historica “I’m exc es to Can it l ada to going sn ed for the snow, sites. ”L ow doesn’t s boarding, and h in said. “My fam maggie ere you c now as m il lin, fr. an’t go to y and I are uch.” Howeve o often be r, as with cause it do not lo e ok forwa very vacation, th r e d r e to “I’m not are thing happy th . s all trav looking at it’s goin elers forward g to b e very co to the lo sit in a c ng drive ld, and I ar that lo ,” Lin s ’m not ng not fun b eing cold because it’s really aid. “Nobody w ants to .” uncomfo rtable, an d it’s

is ring untry. Th ondon du L in g in foreign co o will be e a b e in s in y g a a Im e holid ao, wh Renuka R iencing th ed to and exper a reality for junior y and is most excit rao, jr. e mil renuka will becom urope with her fa . d to E nd Englan azing sites traveling s France a m a h c u s s ie g all the a also very see countr g forward to seein ns,” Rao said. “I’m like the Eiffel in o ti ces “I’m look as decora major pla tm e s is r r u h m and see o C c l f o tifu , and o to Belgiu w g o n to s and beau r d e te it ally exc r the win excited fo ig Ben. Also, I’m re B d orld.” odes of Tower an al of the w there and other m o excited for. it p a c d n the diamo er hand, the flight omething Rao is to and train s ights On the oth in Europe are not the long fl to said. rd n a o w ti r tion,” Rao a c a transporta ely not looking fo v to y it le wa “I’m defin e most comfortab th t o n rides. It’s to rela Some holid ay vac xa ati This is nd explore the wo ons are not the cas made rld but e with wi l l b e just als ju in old bro Saudi Arab nior Michae o to visit fam l Kir ia vi ther ily. Of the , Scott, from siting his da kpatrick, wh m d t o icha D h a i e n ngs Ki dad is rkpatr c. 17 to Jan. d 11-year- patricke, ljrkirkone of i 8 c . . ki the mo “I’m lo st imp s excited for o k i n , spend or g forw break,” ing tim ard to tant. K getting e with with m irkpatrick s his away f aid. “I’m y dad r o be m here I’m no t looki cause I have also excited a nd go ng f n’t see there a n him or going scu ing on nd the forward to i ba n t 20-hou h n r plane e long [trip:] ine months diving . [B th ride ba ck,” Ki e 20-hour p ut] rkpatr l ick sai ane ride d.

December 18, 2008

segment of the Middle Eastern society, and that it is unIslamic.” Signs of the ‘giving spirit’ wearing out between holiday seasons persuaded Al-Khalaf to steer the club in a positive and productive direction by continuing to spread service throughout the community for the entire year. “It was interesting because when I called the food bank to ask if they needed help, the woman answering the phones said that they needed a lot of help, but also that a lot of people come to help during Thanksgiving or other holidays but not so much in between,” said Al-Khalaf. “These people need to eat all year round though, which is why I’m dedicated to going back to the food bank and helping the rest of the year.” The MSA already has a list of volunteer activities they will be attending for the rest of the year, and Al-Khalaf plans to participate in a collaborative effort with the Jewish club and the Fellowship of Christian athletes to further enhance Oakton’s involvement in the community. “Community service is not just something that only a religious community can participate in- it’s open for everybody, and you don’t have to be Muslim to join the club,” Al-Khalaf said.

e cold ng th i p a c s e n is e for th aiian asaria o Hawaii w . d a g H a B h. amily he tt y bag Emily southwes going to t with her f re a emislarian, sop e r o e a m e s g h i d t o n m i Soph nd head reak. She spend ti has been er. er a y er B d to She umm weath ated Wint father an Hawaii. ring the s n said. “M h r e a t p u e i i i w d r c h w i a e t t p s r i an tim vis ilia t tri ,” Bagda t n o s m t e a a c s f L e ’m Island asarian is he most r a surprise ed for us. ise ship. I Bagd s before, t e trip is ing plann on a cru ner n th xcit ime few t at we do o ething e [had] din his time.” eather, “Wh ys has som ride and e for us t e chilly w old. I’ll rine stor lwa he c m th dad a n a subma what’s in scape fro t leaving t l bad that e e u o ee went cited to s e trip is an appy abo said. “I fe h e x h e h y t l s ” . y e h ,” re et ver snow er he thoug ompl Even ian isn’t c o miss the nowing ov asar ng t be s Bagd really goi it could e l i “I’m ii wh Hawa n i e b


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My dad gave me a brick one year for Christmas. - michael zimmerman, soph.

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look exactly like bigger versions of the classic iPod ear buds. 8. Scarf A quick way to take your outfit to the next level, a scarf is the newest fashion craze.

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Best Shooter Game: Gears of War 2- Xbox 360

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“Gears of War 2” is a perfect example of everything fun in shooting games today. The graphics are impeccable, the guns are big, the things you shoot are giant and the game throws you into the action early on, not letting up for a second. Overall, the story mode campaign is a blast to play through, and it’s backed by an excellent multiplayer setting. Blowing your friends apart on Xbox Live with the awesome weapons in “Gears of War 1” was always fun, and it’s been made even better in the sequel. Host advantage has been greatly reduced, and several new game modes like “Capture the Flag” and “King of the Hill” are now available. In the new Horde mode, you and up to four friends work together to survive wave after wave of Locust. If you’re looking for an intense and thrilling good time, then rev up your chainsaw bayonets and dive into “Gears of War 2” this holiday season; just keep this one away from the little ones in the family.

December 18, 2008

Someone gave me a box with literally two hair clips in it. - kivan taghavi, soph.

My new iPod was my best gift. - alex perez-puelles, jr.

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stylish, it’s the best and newest option for anyone to enjoy. 3. XBOX 360 Now that it’s down in price, it’s the perfect time to get the XBOX you have always wanted. 4. Mac Book Air Super thin and lightweight, this laptop is perfect for anyone on the go. 5. Dark Knight on DVD Those $500 million dollars in ticket sales can’t be wrong. 6. WeSC Bagpipe Headphones Of course you have to accessorize your new iPod, so get the coolest headphones available.

Once I got a jar of maraschino cherries. - erika persil, jr.

I got a gas scooter one year.

what you want, but really you’re just hurting yourself.

2. Second Generation iPod Shuffle

Without a screen to choose what song you want, what’s the point? 3. The North Face Jacket Are you skiing? 4. Books You have to read enough for school, books should really just be no where near Winter Break if they’re not the new Harry Potter book. 5. Hamburger Phone Juno irony aside, it’s just impractical and tacky. 6. Christmas Tree Ornaments By the time you get them, your tree is about to come down. Bad idea. 7. Clothes from your grandparents They are forever doomed to collect dust in the corner of your closet. 8. Sketchers Tennis Shoes These weren’t even cool in the first grade. 9. Tri-Bot™ Interactive Robot There are no words.

clubs and your shoes electronically. Only, why?

I got a box of tissues from my uncle one year. -patrick ogden, soph.

Best Family Game: Rock Band 2- Xbox 360, PS3, Wii

1. Uggs You may think you’re getting

10. Motorized Golf Club and Shoe Brush Now you can clean both your golf

- brandon johnson, jr.

- drew harrington and kyle hughes, staff writers, can be reached at and kyle.

courtesy of

1. Cash With the econo-

What not to get

“Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour” will undoubtedly be the top-selling games this holiday season, but the question comes in deciding which one to get. Both games involve friends and family gathering together and taking on the role of drummer, guitarist, bassist and singer with fake instruments. “Guitar Hero: World Tour’s” guitar controllers seem a little easier to strum and has a cool pad to slide your fingers along, and the drums have two extra cymbal notes, which are fun to slam on. The instruments in “Guitar Hero” are a little more refined, but the game can’t touch “Rock Band’s” set list of over 500 songs and online music store. If you already own “Rock Band 1,” all you need to buy is a copy of “Rock Band 2” because your old instruments will work just fine. Rocking out to good music is a great way to bring the family together this holiday season because there’s something for everybody, and the game is a hit at parties.

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What was the best or worst holiday gift you ever received?

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What to get

Worst Game: Wii Music- Wii

Why would you live your dream of rocking out to Metallica on “Rock Band 2” when you could be playing back-up cowbell to the tune of “Yankee-Doodle?” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, “Wii Music” is here. “Wii Music” requires that players choose from various public domain songs and waggle their Wii remotes while pressing buttons in a rhythm. You can choose from several different instruments, such as the trumpet and banjo. Throw in some poorly-made, motion-sensing controls, and the final product is what can only be described as a racket. Your child’s tears will spell it out on Christmas morning if he or she see this game: “Wii Music” is terrible. - alex buscemi, staff writer, can be reached at alex.

for more on video games visit


Do Fairfax County Public School holiday breaks discriminate based on religion?

Three students of differing religions discuss Fairfax County’s break policies and their own religious holiday family traditions. Heather Hildreth, senior What religion are you? “I don’t practice any religion. I’m an atheist.”

Were you raised atheist or did you choose that for yourself? “My parents never took me or my brother to church or temple or mosque because they wanted me and my brother to figure out what we believe in. I just developed into believing that there is no God but that has

Do you think it is fair that Fairfax County only gives Christian holidays off of school? “I definitely think that breaks are geared towards Christian holidays but I like them so I can’t complain. Everyone deserves a break so it’s nice that they happen to be during the holidays.” Should students of other religions be forced to take school off for their major holidays? “People who have a religious holiday take school off and I don’t think that’s really fair but I don’t know how that’s going to be fixed.”



When are the major holidays celebrated? “It’s not a certain time of year like Christianity, it’s all around.”

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What does your family do to celebrate the major holidays? “We pray to God. We get together with family; it’s not very formal.”

What are the major Jewish holidays? “Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the most important. They are known as the high holidays. Other smaller holidays include Hannukah, Passover and Porum.” rz

What religion do you practice? “I’m Hindu.”


Anita Tadakamalla, sophomore

What religion do you practice? “I’m Jewish.”

Do you think it is fair that school holidays always fall on Christian holidays? “Because we do have some holidays that fall during winter break or other breaks as well. I do think it’s fair because our student body isn’t very diverse. We also don’t get off for Jewish and Muslim holidays, so it seems fair.”


For the major holidays do you take school off? “Normally we take school off but we don’t get school off. This year I had three tests and music auditions on Yom Kippur. These obligations make taking off school difficult.” Should Fairfax County give time off for other major holidays besides Christmas and Easter? “We are a minority, and the county doesn’t have time to give off for every major holiday. I know there are some counties where you do get time off, but in Fairfax County we aren’t a big enough minority to get the high holidays off.” What, if anything, does your family do to celebrate the holidays over winter break? “We put up some decorations around the house, nothing very ostentatious. We usually have a Hannukah party over winter break. We have a dinner and exchange gifts.”

drew gunther

Do you miss school for major religious holidays? “The only reason I would take off school for major holidays is if our celebrations and stuff went on late in the night but we wouldn’t really take off. Since we have school, we celebrate holidays and things at night when we don’t have school.” Does missing school for holidays affect your academic performance? “It really doesn’t because I am really good at keeping up with things. Even if I am absent, I can catch up.”


Becky Singerman, sophomore

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Although you don’t celebrate Christmas religiously, what do you do to celebrate Christmas, if anything? “We have a Christmas tree like any other American family. And we give each other gifts and eat a lot of food. We give thanks to each other but not God. We don’t attend any religious services and we don’t pray. Every Christams instead of going to church we read The Night Before Christams together and open one present on Christmas Eve.”

probably been influenced by my parents. Recently, my parents and I have been exploring new religions together. We attended a Jehovah’s witness meeting together once.”

- ellie kaufman, academics editor, can be reached at elena.


Vacation Discrimination

Breaks for everyone? Not with FCPS school schedule


erik gunther

Sometimes Hanukkah ends up all the way back in late November, while other times it happens around Christmas. Ramadan, an Islamic high holiday, lasts an entire month. With holidays like these, it makes it difficult to plan breaks for students. Today’s system allows students of any religion to legally miss school to observe holidays, but students must make up the work they miss. Teachers are not allowed to make any major assignments due on those days, as it provides an unfair advantage to students who are able to attend school. The easiest and most sufficient solution to this problem is to just keep the breaks we have off from school the way they are. This would appeal to the majority of religious students in Fairfax County who conform to Christian holidays, while at the same time, be seen as just being considered a vacation and a break from school for everyone.


he Fairfax County school calendar revolves around Christian holidays. Christmas falls asst. opinions editor perfectly within Winter Break, and Spring Break conveniently occurs the week before the Easter holiday. Although many FCPS students celebrate these Christian holidays, this calendar organization leaves students of other religions without breaks to celebrate their religious holidays. Take for example Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday which began at sunset on Oct. 8 this year. Jewish students, although having received an excused absence for the day, missed school on the holiday due to their religious obligations to themselves and their families. Jewish holidays are

not the only celebrations overlooked by the school system. Hindu students did not receive a break for Diwali, Islamic students will not receive a break for Eid and other religious holidays are not considered for time off. When students miss a single day of school, they miss out on valuable class and instruction time, as well as develop the inability to actively participate while the teacher covers the instructions. A day missed can also mean a large amount of make-up work that the student must spend extra time completing. Clubs or sports after school may be missed by students who choose to observe their religious holiday instead of attending school. If students were to choose to attend school on the day of their religious holiday, it would take away from the religious value that a person gains from spending the holiday with their family or their religious group. Students who attend school to avoid the consequences of missing a day don’t receive the full value of their celebration. Fairfax County schools are required to hold 180 days of school, and taking off for every religious holiday would not be possible. The county should recognize that not all students celebrate Christian holidays and should give these students the allowance of a school break, if not every year, but every other year. This would allow different religions to have school days off on their holidays, not just on Christian holidays. Although the allowance for more holiday breaks may cut into summer, it would allow more three-day weekends for students who don’t celebrate certain holidays to observe their religious traditions.

alex perry

December 18, 2008

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FCPS should recognize more religions in holiday calendar

zoe mitchell

magine having school off not only for Christmas and Easter, but Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, Yom staff writer Kippur, Ramadan and other religious holidays throughout the year. It seems like a great idea for students who are religious. Some students of religions besides Christianity do not see the current schedule as fair because Winter Break and Spring Break are centered around two very important Christian holidays. As most students know, Christianity is a religion followed by a large majority of students in Fairfax County. This makes it convenient to have large breaks around important Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter. What some students do not realize, though, is that we cannot afford to take time off for every faith-based holiday for every major religion, let alone all minor. We would have no time for education and the school calendar would be completely disorganized. State law requires there to be 180 school days in a year. If we were to have time off for every religious holiday, we would have to cut significant time off of our summer break. This would displease many students who participate in summer jobs or need further education in summer school. The problem is that so many of these holidays occur at different times. Yom Kippur occurs in October. Christmas occurs on Dec. 25. Hanukah lasts eight days and falls at a different time each year.

Holiday breaks in Fairfax County coincide with two major Christian Holidays: Christmas and Easter. Should the county stay with the current schedule or give breaks for students whose religious holidays coincide with school?


Insight Issue 5 2008-2009  

Insight Issue 5 for the 2008-2009 school year.